VISALIA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A man has been arrested in connection to the suspicious death of his estranged wife after her body was found near an orchard last week, according to the Visalia Police Department.

It’s now been three days since officers found the body of 37-year-old Christy Van Es and they are still working to nail down a motive.

Her estranged husband, identified as 41-year-old Thomas Van Es, was arrested and charged with her death as police continue to interview witnesses and gather evidence.

“While they were conducting their investigation and digging deeper into what may have occurred, they were able to identify the husband as the suspect in the case,” said Sgt. Mike Short.

Christy’s body was found laying near an orchard in a rural area of Visalia on Avenue 288 and Road 68 on Friday.

Officials say a worker in the area saw her body laying in the field and called the police. 

“Domestic violence cases do happen, unfortunately, they happen too often. Fortunately, they very rarely rise to this level of violence but in this case, it did happen,” explained Sgt. Short.

Those who live in the area say they are shocked to hear what happened and that domestic violence was a factor.

“Call whenever stuff like that is happening. Report it, don’t stay quiet, speak up,” said Mac Aguiler, a resident who lives nearby.

“It’s usually just hard-working people out here just trying to make a living, It’s mostly farm workers and farmers,” said Jeff Schaeck, who also lives in the area.

Authorities say Christy’s death was suspicious and that’s why they tracked down her estranged husband, who was arrested a day after she was found. 

“If you are experiencing domestic violence, please reach out to law enforcement, victim advocacy groups, and getting help and dealing with those domestic violence situations,” urged Sgt. Short.

Investigators are still looking into how long Christy had been estranged from her husband. 

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call Detective Berrocales at (559) 713-4727.